There are some who say that President Joe Biden’s decision to admit any Haitian with a passport and a sponsor into the United States is a poisoned chalice. They stress that the Americans will empty the country of its last human resources.
After the tourist visa holders who have remained in the U.S. since 2010 hoping to benefit from temporary protected status, after the compatriots who entered the U.S. via the Mexican border; after all those who, one way or another, made it to the land of Uncle Sam, behold Joe Biden’s plan that delivers the coup de grace.
Police officers, civil servants, teachers, laborers, every kind of worker is at play in a country where the dream of joining the diaspora has replaced winning the lottery or landing a job of convenience in public administration. The grumblers wonder whether they will all leave.
Those who oppose Biden’s plan are most often Haitians with visas who live abroad and can come and go as they please, or politicians with nationalist leanings.
Opposite them are the others.
Those Haitians who in recent polls have never hidden their desire to leave the country at any cost; those who have relatives or loved ones abroad, especially in the U.S.; those who have been victims of insecurity and its consequences. There are also those who despair of losing hope they will see this country improve and will waste their lives here without the prospect of a better future.
That is a lot of people. A whole lot of people.
Today, what is lacking is the fact that Haitian institutions are unresponsive when it comes to delivering the documents needed to leave. What is lacking is the responsibility of the government that remains silent on the subject and fails to give the impression that the well-being of Haitians is a concern. The black market for fake documents that the negligence of the Haitian government is feeding is an absolute shame.
Quarter after quarter, statistics compiled by the Bank of the Republic of Haiti show that it is the diaspora keeping the country alive. This will be the case for years to come so long as the conditions for domestic ownership of the economy are not in place.
So, what is standing in the way of fully appreciating Biden’s plan?
For now, given the stalemate fueled by the political currents in power and in the opposition; given the violence and insecurity that neither the police force nor the army is capable of fighting; given the delays by an international community unsure of which solution is needed to support Haiti, the personal lifeline that Biden is offering is the only way out Haitians can access easily provided they have a sponsor and a passport.
Yes, the country will lose its workers, its blood and its brains. Yes, after 10 years of massive emigration to Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic and any other country in the world they can enter, Haitians will continue to leave.
Yes, it’s terrible.
But what is most cruel is not Biden’s plan to supply labor to his country, it is the reasons that lead Haitians to prefer everything, anything, but here. Not anymore.
Everyone has the right to seek their own happiness, well-being, and safety wherever they wish. To leave or stay is one’s right, one’s choice. Every Haitian should be allowed to leave or remain as they choose and return whenever they like.